Earthquake building assessment process
The following four step process is used to assess whether buildings are safe for re-occupancy after a significant aftershock.
Step 1 – Initial assessment
1.1 This consists of an initial structural and hazard identification check by Facilities Management (FM) staff to ensure the building is structurally undamaged and safe to re-enter. FM staff immediately check for any new damage by sighting a number of indicator points on our buildings (these indicator points are points that have been so identified as they are most vulnerable to damage). A standardised process is followed and an initial assessment form is completed.
1.2 This checking is recorded by FM staff and reported to the Director Facilities Management who then reports to the Director Corporate Services. If any matters of significance are identified the Director Corporate Services advises the Chief Executive of the finding and the need for further investigation.
1.3 If the quake event was significant enough in magnitude to give cause for concern about the structural integrity of a building then no staff, including FM staff, will enter that building until professional independent engineering advice is obtained. In such circumstances the process will move straight to Step 2.
Step 2 – Structural assessment
2.1 Independent structural engineers undertake a detailed assessment to determine if any structural damage was sustained during the earthquake. The process includes, if necessary, opening up parts of the building to inspect key elements of the structure at points where damage may be anticipated.
2.2 Ara uses Powell Fenwick Consultants as its engineers. The same engineers have inspected Ara buildings following all of the quake events (September, February, and June) and have detailed knowledge of all buildings and how they have responded in each of the quakes. With this history of working with Ara, the engineers have identified a number of key measurable indicator buildings and locations that assist them in determining if there has been any structural impact on the building stock.
2.3 Following a significant quake, buildings will not be reoccupied without clearance from the engineer.
Step 3 - Building systems and damage assessment
3.1 Once clearance to re-enter buildings is given a check on all building systems including fire protection, egress, electricity, water, lifts, plant rooms, air-conditioning, security systems, and LPG are carried out by a combination of qualified Ara staff and professional contractors.
3.2 Depending on the extent of any damage, these checks may then lead to specialist services being contracted to come on site, e.g. electrical/mechanical.
3.3 Any other items needing repair are also identified at this step.
3.4 If any repairs or remedial work impact on the safe occupancy of a building, or part thereof, the area is isolated until repairs are completed.
Step 4 – Signoff and re-commission
4.1 All systems which form parts of the City Council Building Warrant of Fitness process, e.g. fire systems/gas/plant rooms/lifts, are checked and re-commissioned prior to occupation.
4.2 Any damage identified in Steps 1 to 3 that would result in a building being non-compliant with City Council code is repaired before occupancy is permitted. All repair work is overseen by the engineers and is signed off by them as completed.
Campus lockdown procedures
Recently our current health and safety procedures have been reviewed and they now include actions to take in the event of an emergency that requires the campuses to be locked down.
The type of situations that would require a lockdown include where a person armed with a firearm or weapon is on campus property, gunshots directed at or near an Ara campus, police incidents involving dangerous persons that are adjacent to or within a short distance of a campus.
A lockdown message will be sent to students and staff by txt and email. Please ensure your contact details are up to date. You can do this using the Student Portal via the link on Campus Life or https://ebs4portal-live.ara.ac.nz/
On receipt of a lockdown txt or email the following are the actions to take immediately.
Actions to take:
- Remain calm. Encourage others to remain calm.
- Immediately cease all activity (i.e., teaching, group work, meetings, etc.)
- Assist with announcement of the lockdown by using your voice.
- Escape if you can. Only attempt to do this if you are certain that the move is less risky than staying in place. Be aware of alternate exits if it becomes necessary to flee.
- Lock or barricade all doors where possible; use furniture or desks as cover. Staff should lock key accessed buildings. Security will lock entry into buildings with electronic security.
- Shut the blinds or pull the shades down. Turn off the lights and try to give the impression that the room is empty. If possible, cover any windows or openings that have a direct line of sight into a hallway.
- Stay low, away from windows and doors. Sit on the floor or crouch under or behind desks and bookshelves where possible, so as to be as invisible as possible.
- Immediately put all cell phones on "Vibrate" or "Silent" mode. Calls to Ara call centre 9999 or NZ Police should be made only if specific information becomes available regarding the location or conduct of the intruder or if the status of the emergency changes.
- Remain as quiet as possible.
Actions not to take:
- Do not hid hide in washrooms.
- Do not respond to anyone at the door until an "all clear" message is received via campus notification systems
- Do not sound the fire alarm in the building unless there is a fire. People may be placed in harm's way when they are attempting to evacuate the building. If a fire alarm does go off during a lockdown, do not evacuate unless you smell smoke or see fire in your area.
- Unless in immediate danger, do not attempt to leave the building until told to do so by police personnel or by further Ara message.
- If off-campus, do not return, follow official instructions from campus notification system.
- If you are directed by police to leave your secured area, assist others in moving as quietly and quickly as possible.
- If you encounter police, keep your hands elevated with palms open and visible, and obey all police instructions.
- Be aware that law enforcement officers are trained to go directly to the threat and engage it. They may not stop to assist you escape or treat injured persons. Do not do anything that would slow them down or hamper their attempts to eliminate the threat.
- If you are outside of a building when a lockdown is announced, if it is safe to do so, run into the nearest building with hands raised above head and palms facing outward and follow the above lockdown instructions. If it is not safe to run into a building, hide behind a large heavy object (i.e., vehicle or tree). Only leave your location if you can be sure it is safe to do so or dangerous to stay.
- During a lockdown, updates will be posted on the Ara website www.ara.ac.nz or facebook.com/AraCanterbury . When the issue causing the lockdown has been eliminated, an "all clear - lockdown is over" message will be sent by email and txt.
Refer to the Green and yellow emergency notices displayed in public areas.
What to do during an earthquake:
- Stay inside
- Don’t use lifts or stairs.
- Take shelter in doorways or under desks.
- Keep away from windows or objects that could fall.
- Stay outside.
- Take shelter clear of buildings, trees, power lines, or anything that could fall on you.
When the earthquake stops:
Check for signs of fire, hazardous spills, electrical hazards, or major structural damage.
Account for all staff and students.
Treat minor injuries.
Don’t evacuate unless in immediate danger, the fire alarms engage, there is obvious physical building damage, or requested to do so.
Assemble at the nearest earthquake assembly point detailed on the local emergency notice.
If you are in an Ara building afterhours:
If you have any doubts as to the safety of the building, or if power is lost or alarms are ringing, once the shaking has stopped you should leave, return home and follow Civil Defence instructions which will be broadcast on radio stations.
Oamaru/New Brighton Campuses – Tsunami Warning:
If you feel a strong earthquake, or a very long duration earthquake, more than a minute, or notice the sea receding, leave the campus and make for higher ground – at least 35 metres above sea level or 1.5km inland is advised. Follow the instructions of staff. The tsunami warning siren from Civil Defence will sound and will be a continuous rise and fall siren noise for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Notification of the status of Ara campuses
After an earthquake where Civil Defence has been activated and the Police are issuing safety warnings Ara campus buildings will be inspected by facilities staff and if necessary engineers as to whether they are safe and able to be occupied.
If the event occurs in the evening no notice will be issued as to whether the campuses are open or closed until 7.30 am at the earliest. Facebook www.facebook.com/AraCanterbury and the home page of the Ara web site www.ara.ac.nz will carry this official open or closed message in the first instance with subsequent follow-up messaging on both sites.
Secondly texts and emails will be sent to all staff and students at the same time but due to the uncertainty of the cellular network and email systems in an emergency situation there is no guarantee that these will be delivered immediately.
Emails will be sent to student Ara email addresses.